lutheran

Shortest Service Ever? Not really.

Shortest Service Ever? Not really.

When I was a kid–in the early 90’s–I remember Brazil going to the volleyball Olympics Finals against Holland. We had a dream team. In those days Brazil was not known as the volleyball powerhouse it is today. My father, a Baptist minister, had to make a decision. In some parts of Brazil, churches meet in the morning for Sunday School and re-gather at evening for the main service. Such was our situation. The problem was Sunday School started precisely at the start of the final match. My father cancelled Sunday School. Fortunately, Brazil won, otherwise his parishioners would have attributed our defeat to God’s curse on the minister. I never forgot that Sunday. Of course, we gathered as usual in the evening and the worship was grand.

The corporate gathering is far more significant to a Sunday School class, though SS is an important learning time for the body. My father later regretted his decision.

In the years following I have seen churches cancel Sunday Worship for all sorts of reasons: Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. There are legitimate reasons to do so, especially if you live in Florida as I do during hurricane season.

Almost twenty years later, I am following in my father’s footsteps as a minister. I could not imagine a Sunday without worship. I even edited a book entitled The Church Friendly Family encouraging individual families to see the primacy of worship and the church in their lives.

And then I heard of this.

My first reaction was one of frustration. “Here I am trying to establish a grand vision of worship to my people and this Lutheran–of all people–decides to allow his football passion to trivialize the worship of the most high God.” Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special affection for Lutherans. One of my best friends is a Lutheran minister. So when this Lutheran fellow summarized the entire divine liturgy into a minute I felt betrayed. The dilemma was described this way:

“Pastor Tim Christensen, of Butte, Mont., found himself with that dilemma during his 11am service on Sunday. With just minutes before kickoff between his 49ers and the Panthers, he decided to condense his service.”a

The video got a tremendous amount of publicity nation-wide. But this fine good-humored pastor did not betray the congregation. When discovering the tremendous publicity the video received he said humorously remarked:

“The one thing about the video I hate is I look incredibly fat, but I’m wearing a large double-pocketed hoodie underneath.” b

The 53-year-old acted honorably as a Lutheran minister and returned to the sanctuary after his trick play and conducted the standard hour-long service. “He said some members offered to give him updates, but the pastor had the game set on his DVR and he watched it in its entirety – including pregame – when he got home. He was rewarded with a 23-10 victory.” c

Though I find the excessive use of sports’ references on Sunday morning disturbing, I give this fellow minister a standard Christian greeting: the Lord bless you.

  1. http://www.dailydot.com/lol/football-shortest-service-49ers-pastor-playoff/  (back)
  2. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-pastor-conducts-quick-service-catch-49ers-game-article-1.1579092#ixzz2qmBpt2xt  (back)
  3. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-pastor-conducts-quick-service-catch-49ers-game-article-1.1579092#ixzz2qmC2c5xD  (back)

Luke 4:16-30 and the Implications for the Defenseless in the Womb

The good news to the poor Jesus came to preach (Luke 4) is the good news to the defenseless in the womb by implication. The poor is usually swallowed by those who take his life by force. The good news of Jesus is the news that those oppressed from without have an advocate within. The God who sees all things and who does all things well (Ps. 139) delivers His good news and men and women despise it (Luke 4:29).

The recent attempt to celebrate the 40 years of Roe V. Wade by sexualizing an ad is not just “creepy” as so many have observed, but also a strategic move. Secularists and pro-death advocates know that the only way to make a position attractive is by desensitizing  us to the ugliness and horrors of its practice.

But God is not mocked (Ps. 2).

The devil wants Jesus to turn a stone into bread. He wants the final Adam to eat of the fruit before it is time. He wants to make power and authority sexy. But our blessed Lord knows that cross comes before crown. Authority is God’s to give (Ps. 72) not Satan’s to distribute. Similarly, the pro-death movement offers satanic bread to young women. “If only you bow down to the culture of death, then you will be free. If only you go through with this abortion you will live happily with no burden.” These are all lies, and as my fundamentalist brothers like to say, “they are straight from the pit of hell.”

The Edenic temptation did not fail in the garden, and it will continue to succeed unless young women, by the power of the Spirit enlivening the Church in her message and charity, change their attitudes and worldview about the nature and meaning of life.

At the heart of the Lucan reading in 4:16-30 is Jesus’ reading of Isaiah 58 & 61. Isaiah 58 concludes with a promise of Sabbath rest to the people. This is a fitting picture of Jesus’ promise for deliverance and liberation of the oppressed. Indeed the Church’s prayer is that life would find its Sabbath rest from the death grip of Roe v. Wade and the culture of death. The good news of the Gospel Jesus proclaimed that caused so much fury among the Nazareth crowd is the same message preached today. The Herods of old are alive and well. They still seek to imprison and kill little infants. But by God’s grace, the year of the Lord’s favor will stop the crying of Rachel, and console her and many others with life, and life more abundantly.